Dying to live: when the seed grows

To die with Christ means to resurrect with Christ. And this is not something that will happen eventually. It is happening here and now. But no one has to suffer the fate of a martyr for this. On the contrary, this new life is a matter of growth.

“For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection” (Romans 6: 5). This was the Bible text the Chief Apostle used in Strasbourg (France) on 19 April 2017.

“Here in Romans the Apostle explains that we have to die with Christ in order to be able to live with Him and that this happens at the time of baptism,” Chief Apostle Jean-Luc Schneider explained the context. “This sparked my interest. What does it mean?”

He found the answer in an illustration used to explain the Bible text: “Imagine two plants that are planted together and which become so entangled that they eventually form only one plant,” he explained. “At the time of baptism we are sown in Christ. We gradually grow and become one with Christ more and more, to the point where we form only one plant and are one with Him.”

Sharing death

“How does our baptism correspond to the death of the Lord Jesus?”

  • In victory over sin: “Even if hell utilises all its power, it will not succeed in separating me from God.”
  • In total surrender: “Jesus died so that those who believed in Him could be saved.” And we say: “Here I am! I surrender myself to You. I am at Your service. I want to help human beings attain this faith.”
  • In faithfulness to the end: “Jesus died in order to prove His love to human beings and that He will not forsake them but suffer with them.” And we say to the Lord: “I will remain faithful unto death. Nothing will separate me from You. The two of us are one.”

With new energy

“If we have been united with Jesus in death, we can also fully share in the power of His resurrection,” the Chief Apostle said.

  • “This is something completely new for human beings: thanks to the grace of Jesus, they do not need to carry the burden of sin around with them any more.”
  • “We are to prove by example that one is not obliged to do evil. If I refuse, Jesus will give me the strength to resist sin.”
  • In a world in which inequality is becoming more blatant, more absurd, and ever more outrageous we can announce: God offers equal opportunities. Every human being is given the same possibility of entering the new creation.”

“I am putting special emphasis on this new life. It is a life in the service of the Lord,” the Chief Apostle said. “What really worries me is to see so many Christians throw in the towel because they have the chance to lead an absolutely comfortable life without God.”

The world needs faith

“If you stop living your faith it is as though one light is being extinguished after the other,” the Chief Apostle said, adding, “Can you imagine a world in which injustice will triumph?”

That is why the world needs Christians who commit themselves to their faith. The world needs Christians who prove that it is possible to do good. The world needs Christians who proclaim that God is righteous, that those who believe in Christ all have the same chance. They will receive everything from God: eternal glory in the new heaven and on the new earth.

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Andreas Rother
France, Chief Apostle, Divine service